Wednesday, September 5, 2018

My "Final" Take on the Viganò Narrative: I Am Frankly Not Sure That Catholicism Can Be Cleansed of Hatred of Queer People

I don't know about you, but I'm worn out from trying to make heads nor tails of the Viganò story — and most of all, from the cynical post-truth, fake news games being played by him and his co-conspirators, and the ugly use being made of his narrative by some very nefarious groups of people. Here are a few late-breaking tidbits for you to chew over: 

Just a little aside here: Francis, Benedict, John Paul II, Paul VI, etc… all knew about and participated in abuse cover-ups too. Why is Vigano ok canonizing JPII as a saint but wants Francis fired? Regardless, let's pause a moment to understand how news about sexually abusive priests gets from the US to dear old popes. IT'S THROUGH THE PAPAL NUNCIO! Vigano would have had knowledge not just about McCarrick but about EVERY SINGLE SEXUALLY ABUSIVE PRIEST reported to any Catholic official in the US.

Commonweal, "Viganò's 'Testimony'": 

However dubious or questionable Viganò’s charges, Francis should respond to them directly, especially given that a number of the claims refer to private conversations between the two men. If Francis did not know about Benedict’s request that McCarrick should keep a low profile, he should say so. If he is afraid of implicating his two predecessors, who promoted McCarrick and allowed him to continue in public ministry, he shouldn’t be. The truth is more important.

Quentin Young for the editorial board of Boulder, Colorado, Daily Camera: "Editorial: Don't blame homosexuality for Catholic church sex abuse":

What led the church to where it is today was unspeakable crimes and institutional cover-ups. At a moment when unqualified humility would seem the only possible response available to leaders of the Catholic faith, they instead choose to engage in the scurrilous scapegoating of innocent gay people. They demonstrate an unwillingness to accept full responsibility and a breathtaking absence of decency. Abuse in the church occurred not because of homosexuality but because church leaders created safe spaces for predators.

As many of you will already know, since your comments indicate you have kept following this story, the following has happened:

As Jason Horowitz reports for the New York Times,

The archbishop who accused Pope Francis of covering up a cardinal's sexual misconduct has escalated his offensive with new, detailed accusations that put increasing pressure on a pontiff who the archbishop and his supporters say has misled the faithful and should resign. 
The accuser, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, initially said he would turn off his phone and disappear into hiding for fear of his safety. But he then made a series of new accounts in conservative Roman Catholic news outlets.

And as Cindy Wooden reports for Catholic News Service,

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States who called on Pope Francis to resign for allegedly lifting sanctions placed on Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, now says those "sanctions" were "private" and neither he nor now-retired Pope Benedict XVI was ever able to enforce them. 
While Vigano went into hiding after publishing his "testimony" Aug. 25 about McCarrick - and about Francis and a host of other current and former Vatican officials - the former nuncio has continued to speak to the writers who originally helped him publish the document.

Poor man: in hiding in fear for his life, his cell phone turned off, and having to give all these interviews! Including statements about the Kim Davis debacle (see here, here, and here) in which he claims that he did not ambush Pope Francis with Mrs. Mrs. Mrs. Mrs. Davis, but that Francis was in the know and on board about who she was and eager to meet her — claims rebutted by top church officials.

The new admission that Benedict's alleged "sanctions" were "private" has forced one of the leading mouthpieces for the Viganò narrative, Edward Pentin of National Catholic Register, to issue something of a retraction. As Cindy Wooden states (see the CNS report linked above),

In a Register blog post Aug. 31, the author of the original story, Edward Pentin, provided more information from his source, saying the retired pope is now "unable to remember very well" how the supposed sanctions were handled. "As far as (Pope) Benedict could recall, the source said the instruction was essentially that (then-Cardinal) McCarrick should keep a 'low profile.' There was 'no formal decree, just a private request,'" Pentin wrote.

And now, in the way that these packs of human wolves intent on feeding on the blood of some hapless victims they consider weaker than themselves, they're even beginning to turn on the pope they idolize as the last "real" pope, and to say that Benedict has become a problem and not a solution regarding the Viganò narrative and the attempt to "purify" the church.

My own thinking? It proceeds from that no place place I've been given to occupy as an out, unapologetic gay married man with a background in Catholic theology: I'm inclined to agree with all the folks cited above who think the big problem for Francis as he confronts the Viganò confabulations is that not only he himself has been implicated in covering up abuse and protecting bishops who have done that, but his two immediate predecessors have, too. And leaders of autocratic, authoritarian systems do not readily squeal on their own predecessors. They protect the authority of their office.

I cannot and will not idolize any of these men. I also think that it's absolutely inadvisable to buy into a savage attack on the current pope that comes from a very bad place, indeed — an attack that's all about savaging people God has made queer, and is about undercutting the witness of the current pope to gospel-based values in Catholic teaching about the death penalty, immigrants, the distribution of wealth, the rights of working people, etc. I do not understand those who want to attack Francis from the left, no matter how furious they are at his milquetoast response to the abuse crisis.

This is political nonsense. You do not collude with fascists as you claim to be pursuing progressive goals. You don't give fascists any quarter at all if you really want to pursue progressive goals.

As I think I said at the time of the Kim Davis debacle, I have my doubts that Francis was entirely in the dark about who Kim Davis was — but I'm also prepared to listen respectfully to those who claim that Viganò did not provide him the full story about Kim Davis and ambushed him with Mrs. (multiple Mrs.) Davis. 

The problem here is that far too many top Catholic leaders are simply deeply enmeshed in a homophobic worldview and prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to folks like Kim Davis. I think that they all got stung by Mrs. Davis and the obscene folks promoting her.  I think Viganò set Francis up, but I also think Francis was predisposed to be set up — because far and away too many top prelates in the Vatican and the U.S. hierarchy are homophobes who admire Kim Davis.

The amount of hate of queer people pouring out of Catholic mouths in recent days numbs the psyche and makes heart and soul ache. Young queer people visiting about any Catholic discussion site online can very definitely be put at risk of self-harm if they read what good Catholics are saying about their queer brothers and sisters right now. I'm old and thick-skinned, and it affects me to see it.

A lesson I learned growing in the South in the Civil Rights movement: haters intend to hate. And a whole lot of them thump bibles as they hate. You cannot preach hate out of folks like that. You cannot shame them. They will keep on hating, because they have created a twisted, self-serving bastardization of Christiantiy that justifies their hateful attacks on a targeted minority community and reassures them that they are the righteous, good, pure, and holy.

The only way you can deal with this kind of hate is to disallow it and inform the haters in decisive terms that you will not permit your Christianity to be twisted and abused in this way — since they do not represent authentic, gospel-based Christianity but a hateful distortion of it.

White Christians in the South reveled in despising and demeaning people of color for many generations, citing religion all the while — and no amount of preaching and shaming ever stopped them. A sizable segment of the Catholic community revels in hating queer people and will not stop doing so no matter how much one preaches at or tries to shame them.

The only thing that can ever stop this is the refusal of more and more lay Catholics to permit their religion to be co-opted and abused in this way. Lay Catholics also need to challenge the hierarchy to stop playing ugly homophobic games with queer lives — games that originate in dirty secrets within the clerical system itself.

In the final analysis, I am frankly not sure that Catholicism can be cleansed of this kind of hatred. I've come to think that the healthiest response of queer people to this religious community is to protect ourselves against it and its toxins by removing ourselves from contact with the Catholic community. It's not going to give up the homophobic hate accompanied by pseudo-religious slogans any sooner than the white Southern Christians among whom I was raised are going to stop thumping their bibles and spouting bible verses to justify their racial hatred.

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